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Ants & Leafhoppers

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by MaryReboakly on September 10, 2005 04:44 AM
Not really a question, but info for anyone that can benefit from what I learned this week.

Some of you might remember me posting about my sunflowers getting attacked by ants - and I was sure they were after the seeds...I was upset because I wanted to collect my seeds. Well, I snipped of the fading flower heads, and popped them into a cardboard box (didn't have a brown bag) but, I had to know what those ants were doing, so I dug further.

I swooshed the stalks around a bit, and sure enough some of those ants ran up onto my hand and seemed to bite me. Don't know if it was a bite, but it was enough to give me the heebee geebees and make me wiggle like a little girl to get them off me (I know, it's hard for me to imagine that, too) [Big Grin]


Anywho, while I was playing tag with the ants, I noticed some other flying insect landed on me...a few of them. I thought they were so cool looking that of course I had to call my partner over to see (she does humor me and pretend to be interested sometimes). I looked them up when I came in - they looked kind of like mini rhinocerouses (but not beetles) but kind of camoflauged like. Anyway, long story short (as if that's possible at this point) they were leafhoppers, which are protected by ants the same way aphids are, for their honeydew. So, that was cool to find out that info...and I know the ants weren't after my seeds [Wink]

Lesson of the week - as in life, things in the garden aren't always what they seem to be at first glance [teacher]
Did that sound edumacated like? [Wink]

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by Pesticus on September 19, 2005 02:35 AM
Hi, Interesting story and Yes, ants will protect any sap sucking insect that they can milk the excess sap sugars from (honeydew). I sprayed a vibernum bush earlier in the summer which was caked with Black Bean aphids. The spray (an environmentaly safe one!), worked wonders on the aphids. However, the next day I could hardley believe my eyes when I saw ants carrying baby aphids in their jaws and releasing them on to the plant to re-colonise it! Those ants are a lot cleverer than we give them credit for!

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